Thursday 31 December 2015

Another Running Milestone Acheived

A steady 5 mile run yesterday meant a big running milestone was achieved. I have now ran a Minimum of 10 miles every week for the last 5 years. This has included runs on ski slopes, boats, beaches in various cities, countries and terrains. Next 2 years will be a big challenge with 12 half marathons to complete in 12 different countries to hit my goal of running a half marathon in every country in Western Europe and running 50 half marathons before I reach my 50th birthday. Roll on 2016.

Monday 12 October 2015

Half Marathon number 38 - The Vantaan Half Marathon, Helsinki, Finland 10th October 2015.

First trip to Finland, and hopefully not my last. The trip to Stockholm and this one to Helsinki have certainly made Scandinavia one of my favourite places to visit.

Early 5am alarm Friday morning to drive to Manchester to catch a direct flight to Helsinki. The plane was surprisingly busy, but it turns out Northern Ireland played Finland on the Sunday in the Euro qualifiers, so majority of passengers had strong Irish accents and a belly full of Guinness for breakfast.

Decided to walk from the hotel to the race HQ to register and pick up my number after arriving Friday afternoon. The receptionist did question why I was doing this, but I was insistent and set off map in hand to walk. It was shortly after this I realised how cold Finland is. Just over an hour later I found race HQ, luckily surviving almost certain hypothermia. An expensive taxi took me back to the hotel, sod walking.

One thing I quickly discovered about Finland is that very few people speak English, not a bad thing but when compared to most other European countries it is unusual. I also discovered that I was the only English person in the race, it was very much a local event, although it claims to be the 2nd biggest running event in Finland (there must be some tiny ones elsewhere). I eventually figured out where the start was and after a couple of failed attempts to find out if it was a multiple or single lap race I gave up and joined the warm up at the start (warm up is essential as otherwise your running shoes would freeze to the ground).

Overall there was about 800 entries for the Half Marathon, but there was also a Marathon and a Quarter Marathon, starting at different times. The race turned out to be 2 laps of a flat course, ran almost entirely on pavements, roads and cycle paths. About 2/3 of the run was through the streets of Vantaan, the remainder in parks and a small amount of woodland.

Really enjoyed the event, which was well organised and marshalled. My Garmin showed a mileage of 13.3miles in 2:09:30. Which very happy with, especially as every mile was ran in under 10 minute mile pace.

No t’shirt at the end, just a yoghurt, apple juice and dried Finnish bread and a cheese slice (plus a free coffee). You did get a sort of medal but it had no ribbon or means to attach a ribbon to.

After a visit to the hotel sauna (not mixed, before you ask), jumped on the train to Helsinki and with a quick bit of TripAdvisor research had a fantastic meal of smoked fish, Elk meatballs and local beer.

The 4:30am alarm on Sunday morning was a bit of a shock to the system, but meant back in the UK in time for Sunday lunch.

38 races now complete, next race is booked for March in Paris. Will definitely be heading back to Finland and Scandinavia sometime in the future.

Some things I found out about Finland in my brief visit (not necessarily all true):
  • -          It is cold, very cold
  • -          The biggest export is trees (well forest products)
  • -          You only have to so much as look at a Zebra crossing and cars will screech to a halt
  • -          At Pedestrian crossings, the pedestrians will patiently wait for the green man, even if there is not a car in sight for miles
  • -          Finland doesn’t make many cars, in 2013 they produced in a year about the same number as Nissan Washington produce in 2 days
  • -          For a country so cold there are hardly any 4x4’s
  • -          Skiwear is the national dress
  • -          They serve Gin and Tonic on draft (true fact)
  • -          Every waitress under 30 is either a Goth, has a full covering of Tattoo’s or more often than not both.
  • -          Beards are a practical face warmer not a fashion item
  • -          Where the rest of the world shuns fur sales, in Finland if it can keep you warm kill it and make clothing out of it.
  • -          There seems to be more cycle paths than actual roads
  • -          No one puts their coat on the back of their chair in restaurants, everyone is religiously hung up
  • -          Every female has blond hair, the ones that don’t have dyed theirs
  • -          The trains are ultra clean and efficient. When you get a notification that your train is delayed by 1 minute you know they take timeliness seriously
  • -          There is hardly any graffiti
  • -          Moped riders think they are cyclist and often drive along not only the cycle lanes but also the paths.
  • -          Rudolph is not just for Xmas, it is food and clothing all year round
  • -          There seems to be no correlation between the written word and the spoken word. “a” is pronounced “r” and “o” is pronounced “a” as far as I can tell
  • -          If there is a baldness or obesity problem, no one would know as everyone wears so many clothes to keep warm (did I tell you it was cold)
  • -          Spotlights are mandatory on all cars
  • -          Hardly anyone smokes and no one has introduced Vaping to Finland
  • -          Hats, Gloves and Scarfs are the biggest selling clothing items after fur coats and fur lined boots
  • -          There is no public debate in Finland on the wearing of Burka’s as most inhabitants are covered up even more.
  • -          The beer is a lot cheaper than Sweden – only 6 euro a pint
  • -          The Finnish for Start is “lähtö”, the Finnish for finish is “maali” I had to google them to find out where to go
  • -          It gets dark early and when it gets dark it gets even colder.

250 Consecutive Weeks of Running 10 miles per Week

Week commencing 27th December 2010 I ran 15 miles in the week, last week I ran 18 mile, every week in between those dates I have never ran less than 10 miles. 250 weeks consecutive running at least 10 miles. In those 250 weeks I have ran 754 times covering 4015 miles including 1 marathon and 28 half marathons. The longest run was the London Marathon, the shortest carrying the Olympic Torch (not bad extremes)

Think I may be slightly obsessed with this running lark and a little OCD with statistics.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Coast to Coast Bike Ride - September 2015

Not a running challenge, but 3 great days spent cycling from Whitehaven on the West Coast to Tynemouth on the East Coast with 50 other great blokes

140miles, 9000 feet of climbing, over 10,000 calories burned and several units of alcohol consumed. I was over the moon to make it up the 4 big climbs without having to get off the bike. Winnlatter, Hartside Pass, Gallowgill and Crawley Side all conquered. Next year looks like a ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle.

Monday 21 September 2015

Barnard Castle Triathlon 20/09/15

Second year taking part in the Barnard Castle Triathlon, a great event with a 400m pool swim, a hilly 17 mile road bike and a 5k cross country run. Time was slower than last year as taking it easy after last weeks Stockholm 1/2 Marathon and in advance of this weeks Coast to Coast Bike ride.

I obviously saw the camera on the bike ride, as i am very obviously over smiling!!

Monday 14 September 2015

Stockholm Half Marathon - 12/9/2015 - Number 37 complete

First visit to Stockholm, in fact first visit to Sweden. A great city, now up there with the best I have visited. Only downside was how expensive the city was (£10 per pint is enough to make you consider being teetotal). We even managed to stumble on a Gregory Porter Concert the night before the race.

The race started below the grand palace and headed through the city centre, along the river banks, through parks and over bridges. A really enjoyable race although it was a lot hillier that expected. There were very few negatives about the event and organisation other than some of the paths in the parks were a little too narrow and even though the event was partially sponsored by Garmin, a 1km tunnel near the start made the data on my Garmin watch all wrong. 

I managed to start next to the 2:10 pacers and stayed with them for the whole race, finishing off in 2:08:41. A celebratory meal of pickled herring and Elk meat balls followed, with a couple of very expensive beers. 

No T'shirt at the end of the race, only a water bottle, medal and assorted sweets etc. Definately a city worth visiting. Next stop Helsinki in October for Half Marathon number 38

Monday 3 August 2015

Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon 2nd August 2015

A brief 36 hours in Dublin for the Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon. The Rock and Roll races are a series of races, mainly in America, but a few further a field, Dublin been one.

After a really warm Saturday registering and looking around the city (including some Carb loading in a Temple Bar Pub), it was an early night before a 6am alarm. The start was on the North bank of the Liffey towards the East of the city. The race had competitors from all around the world (42 countries I recall) and with cool slightly damp weather it was ideal running weather.

The first 3 miles followed the river, crossing it part way to the South side before heading passed the Guinness Factory at 3 miles. It then headed briefly towards the city centre with the addition of a small hill before heading West again. Mile 3 to 8 were through some residential and industrial areas of the city before entering Pheonix Park, the biggest walled park in Europe.

Smiling at 3 Miles

The first mile of the park was uphill followed by a narrow path (possibly the only criticism of the route, as the volume of runners made it difficult to make up any ground). The route then followed the wider roads of the park undulating up and down until reaching the finish.

Still Smiling at 8 miles

Live bands played throughout the route at approximately mile intervals to keep everyone motivated. It was not a race that saw many spectators, but those who did come and watch were very supportive. This was a shame as it was a route that allowed for seeing runners at multiple times quite easily (Mrs C, managed to see me at 3, 8 and the finish).

I managed to keep a steady pace, covering every mile in under 10 minutes, except mile 13 which was a done in 10:16 (one hill too many). My Garmin clocked up the half marathon in around 2:09, however the official time was 2:11 due to my route covering 13.3 miles. This may be due to a brief toilet stop at around 2.5 miles.

There was even free beer at the end, although it turned out to be alcohol free.

The Rock and Roll Half Marathon also provides the biggest bling of a medal you are likely to receive, which did manage to get the attention of the customs at Dublin Airport on the way home.

May not contain Alcohol, but it was free

36 Half Marathons completed, only 14 to go. Next stop Stockholm in September....

Monday 27 July 2015

Tour T-Shirt has arrived

New Running Man Tour shirt has arrived, thanks Diane and Rebecca from DTW for adding the lettering. Now just got to get to Dublin and run a half marathon this weekend to try it out.

Monday 20 July 2015

Mrs Running Man - First Parkrun with Mrs C in Aldenham

First Parkrun for Mrs C in Aldenham, North London. Great route around the lake and lovely to run it together.

Friday 10 July 2015

Angel View Race - 09 07 2015

According to my watch this was the quickest 6 miles I have ever run, unfortunately the race was significantly shortened due to an error by one of the marshals misdirecting the runners. A shame given it was a great venue for a race taking a run around the Angel of the North as part of the route.

A nice steady run near the back (it was a very competitive field), with some great support by the other Blackhill Bounders and especially the Juniors who pushed me home to the finish.

Only just over 3 weeks to Dublin so panic starting to set in.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Wednesday 8 July 2015

A Couple of Challenging Weekends

Last 2 weekends have seen some extremes of running and sport.

27th and 28th May I took part in the Blackhill Bounders Coast to Consett challenge. 110 miles from Whitehaven to Consett non-stop over night relay. Overall I ran 10 miles, cycled 25 and drove the support van for the rest (a very tiring experience)

Another early start this last weekend, Haven Point Triathlon in South Shields, 5am alarm to get to the start before 6:30 when the roads close. This was my 5th Tri since starting last year and the quickest yet. I finally broke the exclusive 1:30 barrier with a time of 1:23:47. Training now starts for the Coast to Coast bike ride in September and the 2 half marathons I need to complete before then.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Weardale Triathlon - 14th June 2015

A very wet day in Stanhope but a great event completed. Went for safety on the bike and took my hybrid rather than the slicks on the road bike, so a little slower than last year, but still managed to beat last year’s swim and run times.
Although not half marathons, the triathlons are great fun and good all round training.

Saturday 13 June 2015

The Momentum is gathering - 3 races booked already

It’s been a busy week, over 200 new followers on the Facebook Page and 3 races booked.
2nd August – Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon
12th September – Stockholm Half Marathon
10th October – Vantaa (Helsinki) Half Marathon
That leaves 12 races to do which need to include
The momentum is certainly starting to increase

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Running Western Europe

The Running Man is back….
I have decided to try and Run Western Europe by the time I reach 50 (not in an Adolf Hitler or Angela Merkel Way, but in a half marathon way). This will hopefully end up as 50 half marathons, in 20 different countries by January 2018 finishing with frozen Half Marathon in the Arctic Circle. The map shows completed countries in green, races booked in Orange and still to sort in Red. Have booked Stockholm Half Marathon in September and Helsinki in October this year to kick start it.
That just leaves Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Iceland to run in.
Going to give it a good go, time and fitness permitting. May even do the last year for charity.
Any one fancy a trip away you are more than welcome to join me on tour.